Ray Parlour believes Mesut Ozil must consistently perform at the highest level if Arsenal are to become a Champions League club again.
The Gunners endured a mixed first season under Unai Emery, finishing in fifth place as well as reaching the Europa League final, albeit losing to Chelsea.
Someone who enjoyed an up and down campaign was 30-year-old playmaker, Ozil who ultimately made 35 appearances in all competitions, registering six goals and creating a further three. He’d even inherit the captain’s armband and marked his captaincy debut with a goal and assist in a 3-1 home win over Leicester City.
However, it soon became apparent Emery wasn’t fully on board with the former Germany international, especially in the big games, subsequently putting doubt on his future at the club. A low point came when he walked off the pitch after his substitution during their Europa League final defeat to Chelsea, again leading to speculation about his participation next season.
Ex-midfielder Parlour, though, feels he can still play a role, but Ozil needs to channel his inner Dennis Bergkamp to help Arsenal break into the Premier League’s top four.
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“If Mesut is going to play a part in getting Arsenal back in the top four, then the club should keep him,” he told Press Association Sport.
“But he has got to work hard. I played with Dennis Bergkamp and he very rarely had a poor game – you always knew what you would get out of him – and that is what Mesut needs to do, too.
“The best players are consistent and I want to see that from Mesut. He is a quality player but he goes in and out of games, and it could be argued that he goes missing in the big matches. That is when you need your top men to perform.
“He should have that in his locker. He has won the World Cup and starred for massive clubs. He just needs to show that desire to play for his team-mates and show more energy.”
Ozil the Gunner. Five things to know…
- Ozil joined from Real Madrid in 2013 for a then club record fee of £42.4m.
- He has gone on to make 231 appearances in all competitions.
- Ozil has been involved in 117 goals (scored 43 and created 74).
- His best EPL season was 2015/16 with 199 assists, one short of Thierry Henry’s record from 2002/03.
- Ozil’s present deal – making him the club’s highest earner – runs out in June 2021.